What is Ayurveda
About 12 years ago, somebody mentioned to me “The future has an ancient heart.” With increasing resonance, these words started to root themselves within me. I have been on a journey since, attempting to explore and appreciate Ancient/Future methodologies. My journey had taken me to the east in Nepal and India where I was exposed to the Age-old science called Ayurveda.
What is Ayurveda?
Literally translated from Sanskrit (one of the world’s oldest language) Ayurveda means “The Science of Life.” It is more than just a medicinal system. It incorporates all aspects of manifest existence. From single-celled organisms to vast Multiverses’ Ayurveda says that all existence is made up of 5 greater elements. From the very subtle to the gross: Space, Air, Fire, Water, Earth. From amoebas to planets, from your shoes to your furniture to birds and trees; these elements arrange themselves in unique, complex and intricate ratios and proportions to form what can be engaged by the senses and which we call reality.
Our very own bodies, organs, systems are made up of these 5 elements in unique ratios and proportions. How these elements group, interplay and have dominance in the body is what makes you different and unique to me.
What is the purpose of Ayurveda?
The purpose of Ayurveda is to create a prolonged experience of health, well-being and longevity in this existence. The word used to describe health in Ayurveda is the Sanskrit word “Swast” – literally translated “To be established in the Self.” The eastern view of Self extends far beyond the given western narrative. The Eastern view of Self entails the physical body, the mind and the soul. There is no delineation between mind and body. It asserts that the mind is a subtle form of the body. And that the body is a gross manifestation of the mind. (you have heard it being said that as a person thinks in his/her heart so is she/he.)
Any emotional or mental toxicity that we harbour in our minds over an extended period, eventually manifests in the body as a physical ailment. For example, if one is living in constant anger, this creates a chemical imbalance in the body and excessive cortisol is produced. Cortisol is a catabolic hormone and causes proteins and enzymes to denature in the system. With increased cortisol levels, the body moves from parasympathetic (rest and digest) to sympathetic (fight or flight) This can lead to indigestion, ulcers and, over a period, to a serious chronic condition.
An Ayurvedic practitioner seeks to understand the unique constitutional or elemental makeup of the individual and creates a platform so that the bodies inbuilt healing mechanism can flourish towards that constitution or as we would say towards a state of homeostasis.
When one gets a cut as a child, there is no need to apply special techniques, medicines or procedures to heal. All one needs to do is to leave the wound alone so that the body will naturally heal itself. Ayurveda provides a support structure for the body so that the body can naturally heal itself. The support structure can be in the form of:
- Herbs or herbal formulas
- Ayurvedic Treatments
- Diet and lifestyle change
- Mindfulness practices
What Ayurveda isn’t?
Ayurveda isn’t a just a medicinal system or a form of alternative medicine. Ayurveda predates and precedes all that we know to be modern medicine. Ayurveda contains within its ambit the understanding or Yoga, how planets and their orbits and proximities affect the earth and its inhabitants, it understands plants and animals and various ecosystems. These are just a few aspects included within Ayurveda. It is far reaching and has wide impact. Ayurveda has stood the test of time.
Ayurveda isn’t a science that is mutually exclusive. Although Ayurveda predates modern medicine, an Ayurvedic practitioner is cognisant of the fact that the principles of Ayurveda can be followed even if one is taking medical treatment or prescription medicines. Depending on the law in your country, after visiting an Ayurvedic doctor, you may be advised to consult your GP to ensure that the routine you have been placed on is permissible.
Ayurveda isn’t a quick fix endeavour. Because Ayurveda is not purely dedicated to symptomatic relief, rather root cause alleviation, the principles applied in Ayurveda could take time depending on the extent of the disease in the body. Remember what manifests as a disease in a body sometimes takes several years to get to the extent that it does.
Ayurveda does not treat diseases. Ayurveda treats people. Again, Ayurveda isn’t just a medical science. Because the basis of Ayurveda is the 5 greater elements, Ayurveda attempts restorative balance of these elements in one’s constitution. When these elements are restored then the body is no longer in a diseased state.
Much can be said as an introduction to this wonderful and diverse topic, however we will leave it like this for today. Be sure to look out for our next topic where we will explore more on the history of Ayurveda. This is just the beginning. You are welcome to browse through the informative video links provided from various sources in order to give you more of a well-rounded appreciation of this topic. Please be sure to read our disclaimer before embarking on this journey with us in understanding Ayurveda.
Yours in Service